Review: The Medea Complex by Rachel Florence Roberts

Posted April 18, 2014 by Una in Historical Fiction, Mystery-Suspense Fiction, Rating C, Reviews Tags: , ,

The Medea Complex
Author: Rachel Florence Roberts
Reviewer: Una
Rating: C

What I’m Talking About:

The Medea Complex was an interesting premise and nothing like what I expected.  Although I liked the idea of the novel and where the author was going, the execution of it fell flat.

The Medea Complex is a psychological thriller based on a true story.  I admit the mystery of whether or not Anne was insane was gripping.  I saw this novel as more of a mystery than a psychological thriller with the underlying mystery the truth of Anne’s illness and its cause.   As the story unfolded I found myself trying to figure out what was going on, what was true and what was not.  However, nothing proceeded as expected.  Though this could be seen as a positive, there are a couple of elements that grated.  From the synopsis I expected the story to focus just on Anne’s personal struggle, but that is not the case.  Although she is the major character, the conflict involves more than Anne’s personal turmoil.  The historical politics at work and political schemes were the central core of the story.  This is something we do not discover until later in the novel.  I found this intrigue to be fascinating and gripping.  The different ploys in place and the lengths to which people would go, regardless the cost, were staggering and heart-wrenching.

There are multiple points of view in The Medea Complex.  All of them slowly combined to give a glimpse of what is really going on.  Fittingly, all is not revealed until the end, but the deliberate moments where information is withheld are insulting and annoying.  At one point, Anne is hypnotized and questioned regarding the incident that caused her to be incarcerated in the asylum.  It was blatantly obvious at the conclusion of the interview (of which we only saw the barest beginning) that something major was revealed.  However, we are not privy to that information until the very end.  I found this very frustrating and insulting to know a major plot point is discovered but purposely hidden from us.

Another item that is difficult to discuss without spoiling the novel stems from the first person narrative.  We have multiple points of view but they are all first person narrative.  This means that if a character is performing a ruse, it should be evident in the narrative.  Since we are privy to their thoughts and feelings as they occur it should be obvious.  Therefore in order to keep the ruse from the audience, the author should have utilized a different narrative than first person narrative.  The inner monologue should have given this particular character away and it didn’t.

My last critique is that at the conclusion of the novel we discover that this is not truly based on a true story, but inspired by a collection of real people and events.  I applaud Ms. Robert’s ability to connect these people whose timelines do intersect with some events that truly did occur in history.  The main plot of this novel, however, is the work of fiction tying the supporting elements that are factual together.  Upon conclusion of the novel, I felt a little let down by this.

I took my time before writing this review of The Medea Complex.  There were aspects I liked but the issues overwhelmingly irritated me.  Overall, I think I liked it but these issues really detracted from my enjoyment.  Without giving away the ending, I will say I was not satisfied with it as it felt too abrupt.  I felt that we should have been given more of the final aftermath.

Rating:  C


About the Book:


1885. Anne Stanbury – Committed to a lunatic asylum, having been deemed insane and therefore unfit to stand trial for the crime of which she is indicted. But is all as it seems?

Edgar Stanbury – the grieving husband and father who is torn between helping his confined wife recover her sanity, and seeking revenge on the woman who ruined his life.

Dr George Savage – the well respected psychiatrist, and chief medical officer of Bethlem Royal Hospital. Ultimately, he holds Anne’s future wholly in his hands. 

The Medea Complex tells the story of a misunderstood woman suffering from insanity in an era when mental illnesses’ were all too often misdiagnosed and mistreated. A deep and riveting psychological thriller set within an historical context, packed full of twists and turns, The Medea Complex explores the nature of the human psyche: what possesses us, drives us, and how love, passion, and hope for the future can drive us to insanity.

Release Date: November 1, 2013
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: #978-149365117
Genre: Historical Thriller
Format(s): Paperback (272 pages), e-book
Book Source: Author

Purchase Info:
The Medea Complex